I was lucky to have my parents by my side on move-in day of my first year at Hopkins. We spent a few days driving up from Texas and making lots of fun stops along the way.  

My first-year room in Wolman Hall
Cow I got on our road trip to Baltimore

When it was time for them to leave, it felt like my journey at Hopkins was officially beginning. I was nervous to be alone in a new part of the country. Despite my family being just one phone call away, it already felt like we were worlds apart.  

Thankfully, I’ve come to realize that keeping in touch is much easier than I anticipated.  

Day-to-day, we keep each other updated by texting in our family group chat and making lots of phone calls. This is the easiest way for us to remain close when we all get busy. My parents are always around for a quick study break, and my mom is the first person I talk to after I take an exam. When I’m missing home, she’ll send me pictures of our house and, most importantly, our dog Waffles.  

Funny text my mom sent in our family group chat

When we’re not busy, our phone calls can easily last hours. This started with my mom’s discovery of an online version of the board game Catan. We talk on the phone while we play, bet on games, and of course, talk a ton of smack. We like looking for ways to make the games more competitive. Sometimes we create our own tournaments and give the winner a fake title (my mom loves to brag about being the “World Champion of Catan”). 

Trash talk in the Catan chat room

Since I’m the youngest, my sister was the first to move out-of-state for school. Despite being so far away, it’s something that’s brought us closer together. We’ll usually FaceTime while we play the New York Times games together, and she makes sure to send me the best college care packages.  

Even when we’re not talking or playing games, I feel like I have my family with me. Pictures are especially helpful for this, but so is the hilarious calendar my parents make for me and my sister every year. The calendars consist of edited pictures of us and make fun of a lot of inside jokes we have. I had to keep my calendar hidden from my roommate during my first year because some of the pictures were just too embarrassing to show.  

Our 2021 calendar cover

Since my family is always on my mind, they’re the inspiration for a lot of my class writing assignments. I like to base characters on their personalities or even real events that have happened—like my mom falling asleep at the beach and sunburning half of her face. And since they read my blog posts, I’ll occasionally include a subtle reference to an inside joke that only they would get.  

Some of my writing about them, however, is much more direct. During my reintroduction to writing class (a requirement for students in the Krieger School of Arts & Sciences), I wrote about being homesick and some of the differences between Texas and Baltimore. When my teacher graded my paper, he let me know he was available if I ever needed to talk about missing home.  

The note my teacher left on my paper

This isn’t the only occasion where I’ve felt supported by my professors. My sister graduated this past May, and I didn’t think I would be able to go because the ceremony was on a Saturday, and my biology final was the following Monday. I explained this to my professor, and she was extremely accommodating. Because of her kindness, I was able to move out early and take my final online from our hotel room in Kansas. With the extra time I got from moving out early, I was even able to visit my grandparents in Las Vegas, who I hadn’t seen in two years.  

Although it’s hard to be apart from my family, I view it as an opportunity for us to find creative ways to keep in touch. It’s brought us closer together, and I can better appreciate the time I spend with them at home. I’m looking forward to the next time they visit so I can show them around Baltimore!  

Family picture I keep with me in Baltimore